Lakers receive needed influx of depth after key players accept player options

The Los Angeles Lakers are entering the 2024 offseason with a need for depth. Via the acceptance of two player options, help could be on the way.
Los Angeles Lakers v Golden State Warriors
Los Angeles Lakers v Golden State Warriors / Lachlan Cunningham/GettyImages

JJ Redick will enter his first season as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers with the pressure to improve upon a 47-win season. It's a tall task, as anything short of 50 wins and advancing past the first round of the playoffs would be viewed as a failure.

Thankfully for Redick, the plight of the Lakers' limited mobility in free agency was aided by the return of two key players who have accepted their player options.

Los Angeles entered the day of the deadline for option decisions with eight players signed to guaranteed contracts. That number has since grown to 10, with the potential to reach 12 once rookies Dalton Knecht and Bronny James sign their respective deals.

The decisions began to roll in just past midnight on June 29 when Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that D'Angelo Russell accepted his player option to return to the Lakers for the 2024-25 season.

Less than an hour later, Charania struck again with a report that Jaxson Hayes has accepted his player option to return to the Lakers, as well.

Los Angeles could make trades that impact both players, but for the time being, the depth of the roster improved significantly from where it would've been without them.

D'Angelo Russell and Jaxson Hayes return to Lakers for 2024-25 season

Russell, 28, carries a base salary of $18,692,307 into the 2024-25 season. He's likely to be included in potential trade negotiations as the Lakers look for ways to improve, but general manager Rob Pelinka shouldn't be so quick to write him off.

Russell never seemed to see eye-to-eye with former head coach Darvin Ham and could experience an improvement in his quality of play if he develops a better relationship with Redick.

Russell has already set a high standard for himself in that regard. In 2023-24, he averaged 18.0 points, 6.3 assists, 3.1 rebounds, and 3.0 three-point field goals made while shooting 45.6 percent from the field, 41.5 percent from beyond the arc, and 82.8 percent from the free throw line.

Russell struggled in the playoffs, but he was also second in three-point field goal percentage among players who ranked in the top 20 in three-point field goals made during the regular season.

Replacing his production would be a tall order for Pelinka and the Lakers. Trusting Redick to bring the best out of him would also carry risk, as Russell's quality of play in the postseason has been insufficient up to this point.

A calculated risk will be required as Los Angeles weighs its options.

As for Hayes, who's still just 24 years of age, he began to showcase his potential near the end of the 2023-24 season. After Anthony Davis exited a clash with Rudy Gobert and the Minnesota Timberwolves with an eye injury, Hayes stepped in and went off for 19 points, 10 rebounds, and five steals.

The next time out, he tallied 11 points, six rebounds, one block, and a steal in 28 minutes against Draymond Green and the Golden State Warriors.

It's a small sample size, of course, but it was an encouraging sign that there's upside to be explored. The Lakers will have that chance in 2024-25 after Hayes accepted his player option for $2,463,946—a mere 1.75 percent of the salary cap.

By accepting their player options, Hayes and Russell have either shored up the depth of the rotation or provided the Lakers with new trade pieces. In either scenario, it's a win for Los Angeles.